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Crispy lasagna with asparagus, morels and green peas by chef Massimo Capra of Mistura. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Crispy lasagna with asparagus, morels and green peas by chef Massimo Capra of Mistura. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

Massimo Capra's free-form asparagus, morel and green-pea lasagne Add to ...

It's not necessary to make your own pasta sheets for this recipe, but it's relatively simple to do so if you choose. Your taste buds will thank you for it.







































































  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Ready time: 55 minutes
  • Servings: 4

FILLING AND PASTA

1 cup green asparagus, chopped diagonally into ½-inch pieces

½ cup white asparagus, chopped diagonally into ½-inch pieces

1 cup morels, cut in rounds

½ cup green peas

2 shallots

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

12 to 16 pasta sheets, cut in 2½ -by-four-inch or 3-by-3-inch squares

2 litres water

2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

2 tablespoons flour

1¼ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

¼ wedge onion, spiked with 3 cloves

1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

Salt to taste

GREEN-PEA PURÉE

1 cup green peas

1 garlic clove

2 shallots

1 teaspoon butter

¼ cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

To prepare the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and stir in the flour. Allow butter and flour to foam slightly but not change colour. Add hot milk and stir fast and thoroughly, then add onion and cloves and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain to remove onion and clove, add cheese, stir well, set aside and keep warm.

For the green-pea purée, preheat a sauté pan, add butter and shallots and cook until translucent. Add peas, garlic and cream, cook until peas are soft and season with salt and pepper to taste. Purée in a blender until smooth, then strain. Set aside.

Plunge cut sheets of pasta into boiling salted water and simmer for one minute. Strain and cool in cold water. Dry each with a towel and place on lightly greased (with oil or butter) baking sheet. Bake at 500 F to crisp slightly. Set aside.

Make filling in a skillet at medium heat, throwing in butter, oil, garlic, shallots and asparagus. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add morels, peas and tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To start assembling the free-form lasagne, place each of the crispy pasta sheets on a clean surface and spread some béchamel sauce (neither too thickly nor too thinly) over them evenly. Spoon vegetables over the sauce and gently press into place. Sprinkle gruyere cheese over top and use a spatula to move each to a greased baking sheet. Bake all of the completed sheets in a preheated oven at 375 F for about eight minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges of the pasta are golden. Remove from oven and immediately stack the sheets three or four high and place on individual plates. Drizzle the pea purée around each stack and add a few drops of olive oil for garnish.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Asparagus's herbaceous quality generally calls for a lean white wine such as sauvignon blanc. But this creamy, earthy preparation, with mushrooms, gruyere and béchamel, wants to rumba with a heavier partner. Consider a white Burgundy, a crisp, often nutty style of chardonnay that's rarely too oaky. Another good and more affordable option is aligoté, also from Burgundy. If you prefer red, consider a young nebbiolo or dolcetto d'Alba, both from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. - Beppi Crosariol

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